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Landlord intending keeping my deposit - all of it, by sounds of it.

(76 Posts)
GetStuffezd Wed 07-Aug-13 11:37:09

Why does moving out always turn into such a farce? Apologies for length.

I moved out my 2 bedroom house on 3rd August and heard nothing from the Estate agents, who couldn't be there for the final inspection. I will admit, the cleaning was not perfect, oven, for example - I did the best I could on my own in a day. So I am happy for some deductions to be made. However, as they've sold the house, rather than letting it immediately out, I did not think they would go OTT - especially as the new owner and surveyor ripped a whole strip of wallpaper off, indicating they will be changing the (very outdated) décor.

I rang the EA today who informed me the owner was unhappy with the cleanliness and state of the property. She was arranging for people to clean the house professionally and if there was anything left from my deposit they would send it on to me. Now my deposit was £525 - there is NO WAY it will require this amount to clean the property. Please can someone advise me what to do? My deposit is being held in the scheme and I will dispute any costs I think are excessive.

*The house was not professionally cleaned when I moved in.
*The inventory lists everything individually, with most things being in "average" condition; some in "poor" condition.
* Surely she can't pay for work to be done with my deposit money before I've had a chance to decide whether I'm disputing?

I would be grateful for advice, I've borrowed money from my mum to move and I need to pay her back! TIA

NicknameTaken Wed 07-Aug-13 13:34:44

Your deposit will be held by a deposit protection agency, and you can challenge the decision to withhold it with the deposit agency. It's really straightforward - there will be guidance on their website (there is more than one so you'll need to know which agency is involved. Your EA will have to disclose this).

I did so and got some but not all of my deposit back. They take into account things like the age of carpets - if the carpet was a few years old when you moved in, the estate agent can't keep the cost of a new carpet out of your deposit, only a percentage of the cost.

The estate agent will have to give you an itemised list of any charges. She is not using your deposit money, because she doesn't have it - the deposit protection agency has it. If the EA isn't using this agency, it is breaking the law and they're in serious trouble.

If I were you, I would inform the EA in writing that:
- you need an itemised breakdown of any deductions from your deposit
- you do not agree with these deductions
- you intend to challenge them with the deposit agency.

You don't need a solicitor or anything to do this - it really is straightforward and well worth doing.

GetStuffezd Wed 07-Aug-13 13:56:48

Thanks very much, NicknameTaken. I appreciate the suggestions. I've already told them I want an itemised breakdown of deductions and I will dig out the bumf teling me which scheme my deposit is in. (It definitely is in one. My last LL kept it in her Barclays account and I got every penny back when I queried this!)

Every bit of carpet/laminate etc is most certainly a few years old - v old fashioned décor and in some cases considerable wearing. I don't mind paying some of my deposit...but I'm buggered if I'm relinquishing £525

NicknameTaken Wed 07-Aug-13 14:30:13

Fight the good fight! Good luck with it.

Longdistance Wed 07-Aug-13 15:05:54

We had something similar here. They said the house wasn't clean, and the garden was unkempt. There were cobwebs on the window, and the windows weren't clean. Which is the exact condition they gave it to us in.

We took them to court, and they failed to show up, so we won the case.

This was in Oz btw. They too sold the house, and they ripped it out including the kitchen hmm we paid for the carpets to be cleaned professionally, and the oven, only to drive past the property to see that the new owners were chucking it out shock what a waste of money. It cost $500 in total to get all that cleaned too.

iheartdusty Wed 07-Aug-13 16:12:33

you have a legal argument as well if it goes to court, which is this;

if there is a breach of contract (ie the terms of the tenancy agreement), the compensation for breach of contract is usually valued at the cost of putting it right - ie the cost of cleaning. But this is just because it is a convenient method of valuing loss. In fact, the landlord's loss is nil if the house is being sold, unless the landlord has to accept a lower sale price due to your breach of contract. So there should be nothing deducted from your deposit for cleaning, because there has been no loss.

GetStuffezd Wed 07-Aug-13 17:21:56

THANKYOU iheartdusty - I can't work it out as the house has already sold. So why does she need it professionally cleaning? The fact the new owner has ripped off a strip of wallpaper indicates he'splanning on doing up the place... I will bear that in mind when it goes to dispute.

GetStuffezd Wed 07-Aug-13 17:31:43

Oh and how do I stop the EA taking my deposit out the scheme and giving it to her? Sounds mad but their words were "If there's anything left we'll send it on to you." Which sounds like I won't have the option to dispute! sad

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 07-Aug-13 18:00:35

We're in a similar position, even down to ll selling house. They found 3 hairs and some tiny spots on bathroom ceiling and want to charge us fr full house clean.

As far as I'm aware, if they spent your money and you then won the dispute, they would have to pay you back.

Very interesting what you say iheartdusty. But what happens if they say the house needs to be professionally cleaned for buyers? Would they have to prove that?

CharlieAlphaKiloEcho Wed 07-Aug-13 18:06:47

Shelter has a checking thing to tell you if your deposit is in one of the three main schemes if you can't find your paperwork.

They cannot remove the deposit from the scheme until you agree to their demands either.

They can offer you an amount back and you can counter claim and so on until you both agree.

They will need proof for every penny they spend as well.

Mendi Wed 07-Aug-13 19:02:30

I'm not an expert but I think the LL has to provide invoices for the costs he says he has had to incur. So if he does need to have the property professionally cleaned and can show it cost £300, he can keep that out of your deposit. He can't just say he's keeping all £525.

The reason he has to leave it clean having sold it is that you are supposed to leave your house for your buyer in the order it was in when they viewed it. Obviously this often doesn't happen but in theory if it was left in shit state, the buyer could claim for the cost of having it cleaned.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 07-Aug-13 21:43:12

Our house is in much better order now than when the buyers viewed - we were living in it at through time.

GetStuffezd Fri 09-Aug-13 07:46:52

Hello, again. Would you mind checking this email I'd like to send and see if it makes sense?

Dear <agent>

Please would you send me a breakdown of what the Landlady of XXXX is intending to spend on the property at your earliest convenience. While I accept the cleaning was not perfect, I would query how much the property is going to be cleaned, seeing as it has already be sold.

Furthermore, on inspecting the inventory where all fixtures and fittings were described as "average" or "poor" condition, I believe that the vast majority of these remain in the same condition at the end of my tenancy.

Yours, etc.

GetStuffezd Fri 09-Aug-13 08:54:34

Sent it - but I took off the final paragraph as it seemed a bit argumentative and I can mention that later if needs be.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 09-Aug-13 09:02:37

I would have written "would like" rather than "intending to", to make it clear you do have a say in this.

Also I think the last para is fine, but you should back it up with evidence, photos or inventory or whatever. If they know you have a good case, they may be less likely to go to dispute.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 09-Aug-13 09:03:40

Sorry, I should have said, more specific evidence. So quote the relevant sections of the inventory.

RenterNomad Fri 09-Aug-13 17:40:38

Can you take pictures or otherwise document what the new owners have done? If they have had free access to the property, how can they or the EA prove what was their doing and what yours?

Also, is there any evidence that the owner said his about cleaning? I'd ask for a copy of that email as well. hmm

blondieminx Fri 09-Aug-13 17:53:29

I would follow up with the agent on Tuesday next week if you haven't heard anything explaining that you have taken advice on this matter and unless you receive the deposit back by Friday you will launch small claims court action against both the EA and LL to recover your money.

Small claims court forms are very straightforward useful guide here

GetStuffezd Fri 09-Aug-13 18:02:13

Thankyou for the further comments. Nomad I never considered that angle. Yes, my contract ended 3rd August but I left early 20th July and returned sporadically to remove furniture and clean as I had no help. During this time I allowed the new owners and the surveyor to go in using keys from the EA. And no, I don't have proof of that. hmm

They have not replied to my email today so yes, Blondie Tuesday - I shall chase it up.

RenterNomad Fri 09-Aug-13 18:21:58

You remain responsible for the property till you hand it back, but could phrase it as a protest that people were messing the property up while you were responsible for it. Certainly as evidence thst tge decor is to be redone.

Did you take photos?

GetStuffezd Fri 09-Aug-13 18:37:43

Yes I took photos but they just look like empty rooms! I also took pictures of damage that was there when I moved in, eg big crack in mirrored wardrobe door, to show it hasn't got any worse. No I didn't take a picture of the BLOODY ripped wallpaper (idiot!) but I did tell the EA when I handed the keys back, and they said "that's fine, we'll note that on the file." Shit.
Literally the only thing I believe was not cleaned to a reasonable standard was the oven. Even so, it's a massive, ancient thing and according to the inventory, in "average" condition.
Oh god. :-(

RenterNomad Fri 09-Aug-13 18:51:32

Has the new owner taken possession yet? I was madly taking photos of our old house (uploading immediately to dropbox) and the decorating taking place before our deposit dispute was resolved. Carpets ripped out, the works, so of course we weren't going to pay to have all THAT cleaned.

Have you any conract with the surveyor / new owner? The owner could well have not "demanded" a clean be done : don't agents of various sorts have form for "inventing" offers, correspondence, etc.

<whistles innocently>

expatinscotland Fri 09-Aug-13 18:54:23

Private letting is a disgrace in this country.

GetStuffezd Fri 09-Aug-13 19:01:11

Oh God. No, I don't have any kind of agreement with the surveyor or new owner. I don't see why they would have "demanded" the place be professionally cleaned when they had already bought it. Particularly if they're intending to modernise it. I can't even contemplate the idea of the EA "inventing" correspondence... it's too crap.

You know what though? I am NOT going to get screwed over with this. Expat you are right. I've moved a fair bit and had to fight tooth and nail to get my deposit back each time. I'm not losing £525 now!!!

GetStuffezd Fri 09-Aug-13 19:01:54

Oh and I don't know if they've taken possession yet...hmm, good question. I might drive past at the next available opportunity.

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